Nov 15, 2013

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MEDITATION: A trusted friend

MEDITATION: A trusted friend

Do not spurn us, for thy name’s sake; do not dishonour thy glorious throne; remember and do not break thy covenant with us (Jeremiah 14:21)

Whenever we struggle we need a trusted friend or companion.

Someone who has also gone through the fire – who knows how we feel. Someone whom we can talk to and who can support us on this difficult road.

Of all the Biblical writers and characters, Jeremiah – also known as the prophet of suffering and tears – is such a person. He took part in one of the saddest and most traumatic periods in the history of his people. That was when the Babylonians in the sixth century before Christ first besieged Jerusalem and later destroyed the city and the land. Even killing many men, women and children, throwing them out in the streets of Jerusalem, unburied (Jer 14:16).

It is no surprise that Eugene Peterson in his modern translation of chapter 14, where this awful scene is described, talks of the “Killing Fields.”

And Jeremiah was part and parcel of this tragic collapse and destruction. The violence, pain and trauma of the moment tore through his own body, disturbed his own deepest emotions. So that, together with his God, he cried bitterly and continuously for the Lord’s flock (Jer 8:8-9:2, 13:17).

In fact for him this tragedy was even worse. Because how had he not admonished and warned his people? How had he not pleaded that they should leave their wicked ways and turn to God? (Jer 4:1-4).

But that is the irony. Exactly because he knew the deep pain of death and loss, of rejection and disaster he can be a companion for us on our own difficult road of pain and sadness today.

Therefore, we must allow him to be that for us by reading and listening to his words. Especially his moving prayer in chapter 14:19-22 can help us turn again to God with our suffering, knowing, in the words of Richard Rohr, that suffering is often the home of hope.

Carel Anthonissen

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